2021 ongoing, If Your Soil Could Speak

If Your Soil Could Speak  (working title) is a project initiated by artist Margaret Boozer and Urban Soils Institute. The idea is to facilitate collaboration of artists, soil scientists, historians, community gardeners, students, theorists, municipal leaders, landscape architects, teachers, engineers, activists and anyone who wants to help tell the story of their particular soils.

With the support of Troy, NY residents Steve  and Andrea Hartman, we are building an inaugural project and prototype, starting with Hudson River clays in Troy.

Ultimately, I will make a commissioned artwork for their residence, using clay from Uncle Sam’s homestead. (Uncle Sam was a real person, he lived in Troy, and he owned a brickard!) Along the way, lots of folks are helping out… We’ve asked soil scientists, RPI engineers, the City of Troy and a local historian to help us dig and learn about that clay. We’ll share that information (and the clay!) with school kids, local potters and anyone else there who is interested.

The idea is to have fun learning about soils and place, using the visual appeal of art and physical contact with materials to engender personal connections and stewardship of our soils and land.

We’re just at the beginning, and working on an online interface that will be clearer visual storytelling. What you see here is a placeholder for our Troy information as the project evolves. We would also love to support other editions of the project (yours?)

If you’d like help digging into your own soil’s science, art and history, send an email to Margaret Boozer or upload your questions from the USI website

Artist's notes

This piece continues the blueprint work that started with 2020’s Rising Tide. Here, I get to explore more cyanotype coloration, and the history of cyanotype as making possible the first blueprints… and add in a map of ancient Rome.

Thanks to Leslie Holt for perfect pitch color mixing, and to Dan Niel for the blueprint book I based the color on.